Caldwell Comeback Begins

In 2005 Kyle Caldwell was ASU's best returning defensive lineman. Everyone expected him to capitalize on a fine 2004 campaign, but injuries derailed that from ever happening. Through a rigorous off-season training program the defensive end is now healthier than ever. If the season opener versus NAU is any indication, it may just be 2004 all over again for the senior Sun Devil.

"Obviously it was a good feeling" said Kyle Caldwell referring to his performance in the NAU game. "For us older guys we keep climbing that mountain and it was an accomplishment."

The senior is one of ASU's most dynamic defensive players, who when healthy, is one of the most talented defensive ends in the Pac-10. Following a 2004 season where Caldwell's performance earned him high praise, including being ranked as the 20th-best defensive end in the nation by the Sporting News, he succumbed to nagging injuries. The following season was the lowest of them all. He started only eight games and finished the year with no sacks.

Last Thursday, just three plays into NAU's first offensive series, Caldwell already eclipsed that number. "It was a great feeling," he stated. "It was a struggle getting sacks the season before, and hopefully I have a lot more to come." Not only did Caldwell perform well, but the whole defensive line excelled pilling up six sacks. This coming form a group that managed just nine overall sacks in all of last year. "We are really gelling with the group we have out there," explained Caldwell. "We have some guys that haven't played a lot before, and now they're getting experience."

"Some guys bring a lot of pressure," Caldwell added, referring to ASU's defense that consistently blitzed NAU Thursday night. "I think our defense is going to be a lot more aggressive, and they're taking it really personally this year." ASU blitzed consistently against a mobile QB in NAU's Jason Murietta, but it's obvious Caldwell can't wait to face a signal caller who doesn't like to venture out of the pocket as often. "Those guys are easier to sack," Caldwell said with a grin, "That's a good thing to go after."

Despite the constant pressure the Sun Devils' defensive line had on the Lumberjacks, NAU did pile up some impressive passing yardage in the first half that frustrated the maroon and gold. "It's more of a mental mistake," claimed Caldwell. "We got calls in late and they had fluke plays. We just have to fix little plays like that."

And fix the mental mistakes they did. "We were playing good defense," said Caldwell. "We weren't really concerned, and we knew we were going to stick it to them in the second half and that's what we did." In that period the ASU defense shut out the visitors and limited them to only 76 yards.

One can make a case that NAU gave the Sun Devils a scare, but it probably served more as a wake-up call as they face a tougher Nevada team that finished 9-3 last season and was tied for the WAC conference lead at the end of last year. "We playing another good ball team," said Caldwell. "They were a bowl team last year, so we know we're playing a pretty good team."

Nevada's offensive abilities aside, if the same Kyle Caldwell from the 2004 season and the NAU game shows up on Saturday, it just may be a case of another opposing quarterback getting a taste of the Caldwell comeback.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories